German riders gave a master class in Jumping at the finale of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ Eventing competition to give Germany the full set of titles: Olympic, European and now World team gold medals, with Sandra Auffarth also taking individual gold.
All four riders – Sandra Auffarth, Michael Jung, Ingrid Klimke and Dirk Schrade – were flawless over the coloured poles and Auffarth, whose performance on the magnificent Opgun Louvo has been exemplary throughout the event, deservedly collected what looks like the first of many individual titles.
“It’s unbelievable that we are double world champions,” said the modest Auffarth. “When I first rode Opgun Louvo I didn’t think he was a future champion, but we have taken every level step by step and he’s been fantastic this weekend, really working hard.”
Defending champion Jung, who won individual silver on his brave little mare fisherRocana FST, was quick to compliment his team mate. “Sandra is a true world champion,” he said. “She went across country last of all in the worst ground but she and her horse know each other so well.
“For me, it would have been great to come to a world championships on the same horse (La Biosthetique Sam) four years later, but I’m happy with silver because my mare did such a fantastic job. She’s a very clever horse.”
As at last year’s FEI European Championships, only William Fox-Pitt (GBR) and Chilli Morning, the Cross Country leaders, were able to halt German domination of the medals by taking individual bronze.
Although Britain’s team silver medal always looked secure, thanks to a great clear round from Zara Phillips and High Kingdom, the Germans’ brilliance pushed Fox-Pitt right to the wire and he had no leeway to win the individual title that so many people feel this classic horseman deserves.
His charming stallion Chilli Morning was impeccably behaved, considering the deafening cheers for Auffarth that would have blown the roof off had the stadium had one, but he just caught the second fence with his front legs and, to muffled groans, that was the gold medal gone.
“Of course I’m frustrated, but I’m probably lucky not to have had two fences down,” Fox-Pitt said philosophically. “I’ve never ridden a stallion at any decent level before. He’s a real worker and trier, and he’s a rare commodity. I’m very proud of him and it’s great for his future as a sire.”
Meanwhile, an interesting battle had been developing for team bronze. The Australians held third place in the team competition after Cross Country but lost it at a strike with an unfortunate 24-fault round from Shane Rose and Taurus.
The French could have benefitted from this, but Jean Teulere (Matelot du Grand Val) and Cedric Lyard (Cadeau du Roi) collected eight faults apiece. Sadly, Maxime Livio’s superb clear round on Qalao des Mers, which elevated him from eighth to fifth place individually, was not enough to rescue the home team’s medal chances.
Instead, the Netherlands team, who have been giving notice of deepening strength with their consistent results in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ series, rode for their lives to be deserved recipients of team bronze, the country’s first ever medal at world championship level.
Elaine Pen and Vira have been one of the up-and-coming partnerships this year and they produced a beautiful clear round to rise seven places to 13th individually. Merel Bloom (Rumour Has It) was also clear in 26th place and the talented Tim Lips, who has long flown the Dutch flag in Eventing, finished in 18th place on Keyflow N.O.P.
Speaking on behalf of his team mates, British-based Andrew Heffernan, who retired Boleybawn Ace on the Cross Country, said: “This means more than you can possibly imagine. We came here with one goal, which was to qualify for Rio, and not only have we done that but we’ve had a fantastic experience. It’s our first world medal, so watch out the rest of the world!”
An electric atmosphere in the 21,000-seat arena fully justified the decision to transport the horses from the Dressage and Cross Country venue into the D’Ornano Stadium in Caen as the capacity crowd got into the spirit of the occasion, sporting national flags, executing Mexican waves and cheering ecstatically.
Frederic Cottier’s Jumping course provided the perfect finale; it was testing – there were a few refusals – but not at all punishing and horses were jumping well despite the testing conditions of the previous day’s Cross Country.
The top six nations – medallists Germany, Great Britain and the Netherlands, plus France, Australia and Ireland – have all secured qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
About the new World Champion
Sandra Auffarth, 27, is steeped in horsemanship, having competed in Jumping to a high level as well as Eventing. Her parents, Karl-Heinz and Barbel Auffarth, breed competition horses at their Stal Auffarth, which has been established for 30 years. Sandra is closely involved with the business and plans to take it over when her parents retire.
She has ridden the 12-year-old Opgun Louvo, a Normandy-bred Selle Francais by Shogoun ll, since he was five. They sprang to prominence at the 2011 FEI European Championships when they won team gold and individual silver and in 2012 they won Olympic team gold and individual bronze. The horse spent part of 2013 on the sidelines, but came back to claim victory at the Aachen CCIO3* this year.
Final Individual Results
1 Sandra Auffarth/Opgun Louvo (GER)* 35.2 + 16.8 + 0 = 52.0
2 Michael Jung/fischerRocana FST (GER)* 40.7 + 11.6 + 0 = 52.3
3 William Fox-Pitt/Chilli Morning (GBR)* 37.5 + 12.8 + 4 = 54.3
4 Jonelle Price/Classic Moet (NZL) 48.5 + 4.0 + 4 = 56.5
5 Maxime Livio/Qalao des Mers (FRA)* 45.3 + 13.2 + 0 = 58.5
6 Karin Donckers/Fletcha van’t Verahof (BEL)* 42.3 + 13.6 + 4 = 59.9
7 Peter Thomsen/Horseware’s Barney (GER) 46.3 + 14.0 + 0 = 60.3
8 Boyd Martin/Shamwari 4 (USA)* 46.3 + 13.6 + 4 = 63.9
9 Andrew Nicholson/Nereo (NZL)* 45.3 + 7.2 + 12 = 64.5
10 Andreas Ostholt/So Is Et (GER) 46.3 + 10.4 + 8 = 64.7
(* denotes team rider)
GOLD: Germany 177.9 (Sandra Auffarth/Opgun Louvo, 52.0; Michael Jung fischerRocana FST 52.3; Ingrid Klimke/FRH Escada JS, 73.6; (Dirk Schrade/Hop and Skip, 135.3)
SILVER: Great Britain 198.8 (William Fox-Pitt/Chilli Morning, 54.3; Zara Phillips/High Kingdom, 68.9; Kristina Cook/De Novo News, 75.6 (Harry Meade/Wild Lone)
BRONZE: Netherlands 246.8 (Elaine Pen/Vira, 72.3; Tim Lips/Keyflow N.O.P., 79.9; Merel Blom/Rumour Has It, 94.6 (Andrew Heffernan/Boleybawn Ace, RET XC)